Michelle Devane, PA
Children are not “vectors” for Covid-19, an Oireachtas committee has heard, as LilyRose Wogan-Martin (12) from Dublin added she was left with a “bitter taste in her mouth” when people shunned her and other children last year when the virus first began to spread.
The Children’s Committee heard from a group of youngsters on their experiences during the pandemic on Tuesday.
"I am not a vector," LilyRose said, adding: "At the first lockdown we were all encouraged for our mental welfare to go walking with our families.
“The fact other people shunned us and in many cases tried to walk in the middle of the road rather than pass us left a bitter taste in my mouth and made me want to stay in rather than go out.
“This week an Irish paper had a report on the research into children being vectors at the start of lockdown. I found it amazing that it took 15 months to discuss this and I was even more amazed that it was not prioritised sooner.”
LilyRose told the committee her grandmother died during the pandemic.
“On Mother’s Day my brother and I made a banner for my granny,” she said.
“We waved and danced outside her window. Little did I know that that would be the last time I would see her as we were not allowed to see her in the hospital before she passed away.
“I’m sure there are many children in the same situation as me, but that does not make it any easier.”
LilyRose said not only had her school life been disrupted by the lockdowns, but they had also affected important occasions in her life.
She wondered whether her classmates will all be able to attend their confirmation which has been rescheduled for November when they are all in different secondary schools.
She also spoke of how there were only 10 people allowed at her grandmother’s funeral and 25 people in the church for her aunt’s funeral during the pandemic.
She said she was looking forward to not feeling scared anymore.
“I’m looking forward to getting vaccinated but most of all having all my family able to travel home so we can all be together and especially not to feel scared anymore.”
“I think all children, even the very young who did not understand, deserve appreciation and respect for all the fear thrown at us and we would appreciate not to be forgotten by the same adults.
Conor James (11) from Dublin, told the committee that he missed not being able to hug his parents when they came home from work.
“My mum and dad are doctors, and my mum still works with Covid patients,” he said.
“We all know the pandemic was hard for health workers – but it was hard for their families too.
“The hospitals were very busy and overcrowded and stressful. I could not hug my parents when they came home from work.
“Luckily, they both got their vaccine four months ago. Since then, I have been looking forward to getting back to normal life.”